Honeymoon Chocolates officially began in a dorm room kitchen when Co-Founders Cam and Haley first began making bean-to-bar craft chocolate as a hobby. Honeymoon was founded in 2016 and specializes in bean to bar craft chocolate sweetened solely with raw honey. Our first and foremost reason for making chocolate is to address the decreasing supply of cacao and decline of honeybees worldwide. Secondary to us (but just as important) is to allow our consumers to remove refined sugar from their favorite foods. A few positives in using honey compared to traditional cane sugar include a roughly 1.5 time multiple in sweetness (which decrease overall caloric content by 20 calories for a 2.5 oz. bar), a lower glycemic index, and trace amounts of beneficial enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants, B vitamins, and minerals such as calcium, magnesium and potassium. Not only do we give a portion of our proceeds to support honeybee research, we also purchase directly from beekeepers which allows us to support apiarists.
The idea is to minimize mistakes and maximize quality. To begin each batch we use cacao from a few different origins- Peru, Haiti, and Colombia. All of our cacao is sourced either transparently or directly via Meridian and Uncommon Cacao. Processing our cacao begins with roasting. We develop different recipes for roasting each origin and harvest to bring out the best flavors. The beans are then cracked into nibs and the husk removed. The husks are used in our chocolate tea, and the nibs go into our stone-wheel melangers for approximately 48 hours. Once our cacao has been stone-ground, we temper, mold, and hand-package our bars. Our packaging is 100% compostable- which includes sugar cane labels and sustainable paper stock for our wrappers.
Via Interview with Fog City News
Take a minute to explain the health benefits of honey (and detriments of cane sugar).
In general, an abundance of refined sugar is detrimental to overall health. While honey is also mostly sugar, it does contain some essential vitamins and minerals, as well as enzymes that have demonstrated antimicrobial effects. Most zero-calorie sweeteners that are used as sugar replacements have been linked to an increased health risk, so we also try to avoid those-sticking to a sweetener that humans have used safely for thousands of years. Of course, replacing refined sugar with honey, without decreasing intake overall will probably not reverse any of the harm done by sugar overall. (For those interested in learning more in-depth about honey and its many uses visit this article located at ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.)
Was it your mission to avoid refined sugar because of dietary restrictions that either of you had?
Neither of us have any strict dietary restrictions, although we do try to make intentional choices about what we consume. Cam has always been health and ecologically conscious, so that was our drive to replace cane sugar with honey.
What are the challenges facing honey bees?
Out of 100 crop species surveyed, about 90% serve as food sources. Of these 90 crops, 35% are pollinated by bees, birds, and bats (fao.org). Colony Collapse Disorder provided a more serious result- without bees we face a chain of events that would be detrimental to many crops such as almonds, blueberries, and garlic (the list goes on!). According to a recent Yale study, neonicotinoids could be to blame for bee population decrease in the US- although not fully as bee populations in Australia have been unharmed by these pesticides.
Which came first, the passion for chocolate? Or the passion for honey?
The passion for chocolate came first- Cam bought Haley some cacao nibs for her birthday. The necessary equipment needed was enough to get us hooked on the process! When we found out that adding raw honey was possible, we were all in!
Most people in the chocolate business have had a chocolate epiphany somewhere along the way; a chocolate they tasted that changed the way they thought about chocolate forever. Did you have a moment like that?
Yes! Our epiphany came from tasting a 55% coconut milk and Ben Tre bar from Marou. The flavor was so intense we had to share with all friends and family!
We tried Dick Taylor’s 72% Belize bar on our trip when Cam proposed to Haley. This flavor has a lasting impact and is also one of our favorites.
How did you learn about chocolate making?
We are entirely self-taught- using blogs, the Chocolate Alchemist’s website, and our own trial and error.
Are there other makers who were inspirational in creating Honeymoon Chocolates?
The Chocolate Alchemist, Marou, Dick Taylor, Dandelion, and Manoa are all makers/brands that we love to follow and are inspirational to us both. It is incredible to see how these brands have continued to tell their story at a nationwide level.
Was there debate about how sweet some bars should or shouldn’t be?
Honey is sweeter than sugar by weight. This provides a bit of an issue when deciding what percentages to put out. We recently stumbled upon a honey variety that more accurately represents sugar intensity of cane sugar.
Did you assume that there must have been other chocolate companies that were already making honey-sweetened chocolates? You mention on your website that there are just a handful. Was that a surprise to you?
That was surprising for us. Over the last decade or so, there has been a push for more health-conscious food, and we were surprised that most fine chocolate makers were still only using cane sugar.
Do you have a favorite bar in your line?
We do love them all, but if forced to choose, Cam’s is the 70% Dark Chocolate Raspberry, while Haley’s is the 50% Dark Strawberry Milk Bar.